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School district offers marijuana use prevention seminars

By Staff | Feb 21, 2019

Parents are invited to attend a marijuana use prevention seminar, three of which are being held by the School District of Lee County to provide education regarding the myths and facts of the drug.

School District of Lee County prevention specialist Sara Thompson said this year the district has an objective to hold monthly seminars on various prevention topics which, so far, have included bullying, tobacco and vaping.

This month the district decided to focus on marijuana prevention because February is national Marijuana Awareness Month. Thompson said they do have students in the district who have been arrested for marijuana possession. Officials have also seen the drug in the schools.

“Based on the Florida Youth Survey students are admitting to using marijuana and vaping marijuana,” she said.

According to the 2018 Florida Youth Survey 22.5 percent of students 10 to 17 years old have tried marijuana at least once, and 10 percent have used the drug in the last 30 days.

There are two seminars remaining.

The school district will hold a marijuana seminar from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at Cape Coral High School, 2300 Santa Barbara Blvd., as well as from 6 to 7 p.m. Monday, March 4, at Varsity Lakes Middle School, 801 Gunnery Road North.

Thompson said the seminars are typically held in the media centers or, on occasion, in the cafeterias. Handouts and material are provided for those who attend the seminar.

“We give the presentation and allow for questions,” she said.

With the media sharing a lot of information about marijuana, Thompson said this month’s seminar will focus on the myths and facts of the drug.

“That will help them when they talk to their children about this topic and hopefully help their child understand that this is not something they want to be doing,” she said.

Thompson said 30 percent of those that use have marijuana dependency. They will share with parents what symptoms might indicate dependency of marijuana and that it could lead to more serious addictions.

Another topic will include how marijuana affects the teen brain.

Thompson said the teen brain is not fully developed until they reach their mid 20s.

“Addiction is a learning process, a chemical learning process in the brain,” she said. “The brain starts to learn ‘I need that chemical’ to behave a new way.”

Although there has been attendance at each of the seminars, Thompson said they would like to see more parent involvement.

“We would like to see parents look for these seminars every month,” Thompson said, adding that March will focus on social media awareness, followed by alcohol in April. “We want to educate parents about some of the different issues that their children may be exposed to and try to use. Our goal is to try to keep them from getting involved in some of these behaviors.”

The hope is parents will take the information they learned and work with their children.

“It’s all about education,” Thompson said.